Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wise beyond her years

God works in mysterious ways and He never ceases to amaze me. Just the other day, I was telling Little K something or other about needing to make sure I do some work so I can help pay the bills and she responded with something like “Why do you worry? It’s all going to work out. God always takes care of you.” 

As I looked in the backseat of my car through my rearview mirror, I expected to see a sage old man but it was just my 7-year-old. She floors me most days. Wise beyond her years.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving with Kids and Pets

Today is moving day. We're moving into a nearby rental house for about six months while some remodeling happens on our home in Houston. I'm 5.5 months pregnant so my inner planner is in high gear. It's mornings like today that remind me that there are just some things in life that aren't meant to be planned out with details. Go with the flow, Megan. I'm trying.

Last night, we finished most of the packing since the movers would arrive between 8:30-9:30 am Monday. After getting our daughter to bed and reassuring her (and calming down her intense excitement about the move), I bathed so that I'd be ready for Monday. We went to bed early too. The dog lay on his pet bed beside the master bed. The cat, who had been crying about not being able to join the master bedroom, was in the end allowed to enter the master bedroom so he wouldn't wake up our daughter. He took his place between my pillow and my husband's. Whatever.

Fast forward to 5 am. I wake up to the cat pawing at me and the comforter. I shoo him away, thinking he was trying to play like he usually does in the early mornings. Shortly after that, he returned and I tried to ignore his pawing again, only to be awakened by wet sheets. Yep, he urinated on top of my comforter, which went through the comforter, through the sheets, onto my leg and PJs to the mattress cover.

I sprang from the bed, yelling a word that I shouldn't, of course waking up my husband. I blabbered some sort of explanation and ran into the bathroom, where I proceeded to take a bath without removing my PJ top. I think I thought I could continue wearing the shirt because it had not gotten soaked by the cat, but I was also half asleep. I bathed quickly since I could hear my husband grumbling as he removed the bed sheets. I drained the tub and climbed out to learn that I had no towels because everything had been packed. I dried myself using the shower curtain, walked into the bedroom where my husband said: "Are you sure this wasn't you?
really?  "No, it wasn't me," I said strongly. "Why in the world would a full-grown adult pee on herself?"

My husband, not dressed for public viewing, carried the duvet & duvet cover to the outside trash can. Neither of us were pleased with the quality but the urine threw us over the edge. Upon returning inside where I was laughing, my husband helped me grab the sheets and take them to the laundry downstairs. It was 5:30 am. I finished adding soap to the load and returned to my unsheeted bed upstairs. I was still laughing when I heard my 7-year-old shout out: "Can you two turn it down some? I'm trying to sleep." She acts like this is a regular occurrence.

I barely had laid down when I heard my husband ranting downstairs. What have I forgotten to do now?

When I entered the kitchen, my husband explained that in the medlem, we didn't let the dog go outside so he decided to urinate on the kitchen floor. My husband stood with a wet mop in his hand, looking incredulous. He continued his hysterical rant while mopping the floor at about 5:40 am. When he mentioned some crazy things that he might do to add to the nut house, I burst into laughter so hard that... wait for it... I peed on the floor! (Yes, it's true and I just admitted it to everyone.) I ran, still laughing, to the downstairs bathroom and my husband shouted "Oh, well why not you too? Anyone else?" There was no toilet paper in the bathroom since I packed that too, so my husband brought me paper towels. Lovely.

He mopped the rest of the floor, cracking up himself. "Should I put the dog out now?" I asked.

"Oh, he's outside getting the second half out," Trent replied.

After scrubbing our hands, we returned upstairs, crawled on top of the bed and I shut my eyes. I could feel him staring at me so I opened my eyes again.

"See you in 11 minutes," Trent said. It was 6:04 am. "(God) never gives me more than I can handle," he repeated over & over softly with a little giggle in his voice. No, he doesn't but he will give you plenty of smiles along the way, I thought.

The alarm rang early this morning, but we got dressed and headed out for breakfast. No need to set the house on fire. Besides Little K spilling chocolate milk ALL over her white uniform blouse, breakfast went smoothly. Luckily, I had spare uniforms in the car since everything had been packed.

We arrived at school in time for announcements so we could see Cousin Claire dance on stage. The morning drop-off was a success despite a few early morning obstacles. At this point, the day has to get better. Hope this tale makes you laugh.

Until the next nap time..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Defining Wealth for Kids... reprinted from "Daily Worth"

I thought this article from "Daily Worth" was so good, that I had to share it.

Defining Wealth for Kids
by Marjorie Ingall

I blame Kit, the plucky American Girl Doll who survives the Great Depression. Ever since my daughter Maxine read the Kit books, she’s been asking, “What would happen if Daddy lost his job? Where would we live if the bank took our house?”

And she most wants to know: “Are we rich or are we poor?”

A lot of kids ask that last question, says Kiki Schaffer, an education director at the YMHA in New York City. The trick is figuring out what your child is really asking.

She might be seeking reassurance that she’ll be loved and protected no matter what the future holds. But if, like Maxie, your child really wants to know about family wealth, why not grab the teachable moment?

I've been explaining to Maxie that even though we have enough for our needs, we try to not to waste money. We spend wisely. We work hard. We help those in need (in our tradition, we give tzedakah).

Maxie goes to a public school where 40% of the children qualify for free lunch; there, we’re pretty well-off. But she also goes to a Hebrew School where many families outearn us many times over. (I watched one middle-school girl show her shoes to another student, saying, “They’re my mother’s, they’re Prada, you touch them, you die.”)

This dichotomy, sometimes being the kid with more and sometimes being the kid with less, is healthy, Schaffer says. “You can explain how some people have less and are happy and others have more but are never satisfied.” In other words, wealth is, quite often, a state of mind."
Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Houston's Greek Festival Not Kid-Friendly

Festivus for the rest of us

So our family joined to the Greek Fedtival this Sunday at 2 pm & I was so excited since I hadn't ever been. On the way there, Little K asked me 20 questions about how much fun she would have. I reassured her that, yes, there would be a jumpie/moonwalk, face painting & tons of fun stuff for kids. I lied.

We paid $5/adult (no fee for kids under 12) to enter & discovered that there was beer, wine, water & soft drinks amongst a myriad of Greek food to eat, we grabbed three years for a total of $21, ate those & searched for family-friendly activities. The kids dance program wouldn't start for another hour & there was nothing else for kids to doz I grabbed drinks & we sat on the ground in the parking lot next to a trash can to figure out what to do.

The Greek Fest was officially a bust when Little K announced, "I'm bored."

I imagine it'd be fun on a Friday or Saturday night without kids. You could buy a bottle of wine from the festival & share it while you walk around the pretty campuses of Annunciation church & school as well as the University of St. Thomas. Besides that, there's just not much to do.

We're now heading to St. Cecilia Oktoberfest near I10 & Bunker Hill, which promises loads of kid activities. With the cooler temperature today, I just couldn't stay inside.

Until the next nap time....

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Good Deal on Haunted Houses

The month of October ushers in spooks and skeletons of all sorts. If your kids are oldest enough to enjoy these, here is a way to grab the fun with a discount. From today through October 6, Groupon is offering discounted prices. See for complete details.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, October 01, 2012

Tales of a Second Grade Nothing

Being a mom is hard. Being a GOOD mom is WAY harder.

When your 2nd grader forgets her homework & begs you to take her back to school at 3:45 pm so she can get her homework -- saying she'll even clean out the kitty litter if you'll take her back -- you do it. When your child sees that her teacher is in a private meeting with another parent and she's too scared to interrupt them, you coach her along but encourage her to own up to the situation. After reaching way down to find the courage to open that door and politely interrupt the grown-up meeting, when the teacher says that there are consequences to her actions and that she'll have to do the work tomorrow (during recess or lunch), you bite your lip 'cuz you feel like you're in time out too but you let the teacher discipline the student instead of rushing in to save the day (which is what you really want to do). This is not the second grade I remember with Jolly Rancher candies for good work, trips to the ice cream parlor when the class did really well and games in class. 

Oh, it doesn't stop there because Little K is tough on herself. (It doesn't help that her parents are a bit strict.) She slapped her arm in the car to punish herself. I quickly asked her about it and she said she was very mad at herself. This, of course, launches us into another conversation about never hurting her body. That action alone made me more upset than forgetting any piece of homework. 

And then, the doubt sets in. Before I can sort through if I replied to the teacher in the right way, did I correct Little K in the right way, was I too hard on her... Little K had cleaned the kitty litter for the first time, finished the homework that did come home with her, and asked if she could ride her scooter outside since she lost the privilege of TV. She's a good kid, who happens to be just 7 years old. 

After dinner and a bath, Little K breezes through another workbook I found and she does it with a smile. I stood or sat beside her and she smiled and giggled. She's a happy kid. She bounced into bed, singing and laughing as if the world was her oyster. Well, it is. 

"You need to calm down and get a good night's sleep so you'll be well rested for your big day tomorrow," I said. "I don't want you to forget anything and I want you to be able to do all your work tomorrow just like you did today."

"Okay, Mommy," she replied. "But can you set my alarm for extra early so I can do some more of that workbook?" 

We say our prayers. I tuck her into bed and Daddy pecks her forehead. I kiss my girl good night and close the bedroom door behind me. Good Lord, I hope she remembers her stuff from now on, I think. I can't take much more of this. My mom warned me about motherhood but it was the child-bearing part that worried me. I didn't realize that when your kid hurts, your heart hurts too. Luckily, tomorrow is another day for both of us.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Motherhood: Round 2

So I just read the article "25 Rules for Moms with Sons" that my friend Amy S. sent. I'm drying my tears before they hit my cheeks, but there's still a lump in my throat. What are friends for, right? I'm being groomed to be a mother of both a daughter and a son, and I have a lot of homework to do. I'll be a good student though. If you have sons, I highly recommend the quick read. And if you're married to a male who treats you right, thank his mother (& him, of course).

I'm now about 18 weeks pregnant with our first little boy, which is a good thing since our 7-year-old daughter said months ago she only wanted a brother because a sister would copy her. When I told her that I had no control over which gender God put in my belly, Little K replied: "Well, you need to focus." :-) She's my strong-willed child and one that I prayed for. 

I've gotten several comments (three this week in fact) about whether my pregnancy was "an accident" or a "surprise" since we have a 7-year-old child & that seems to many just way too big of a gap in age. Besides the fact that I'm floored so many people are that insensitive and impolite, I will say that 1) no, we've tried to get pregnant for some time and that we're happily here despite the trials we faced and 2) it's never anyone's business how a child came to be. And yes, I am trying to be polite here.

All that said, we were overjoyed at the pictures that we saw during the sonogram yesterday. This despite the fact that I waited 2 hours for my appointment and wasn't sure I needed another sonogram since I already had one in August. (Part of the extra tests they run when the mother is over 35 years of age.) I've teased that this photo indicates my son may be a future Aggie (attend Texas A&M University for those of you not from Texas), which has made my father proud. However, I secretly think it's a subliminal sign that in fact this little guy is A-OK! I keep thinking This isn't going to be easy, but it'll be good

Starting over with a newborn when you already have a child who can bathe herself, feed herself, toilet herself and the list goes on will be a challenge. The child being a boy this round is the extra challenge but then again, I don't like easy. Thanks to Tabitha Studer, I now have a list of tips, a lot of prayers and good family to help me raise this little stinker and still pay plenty of attention to my #1 girl, Little K. Ready or not, here he comes. Introductions officially will be made in February.

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recap of our Trip to the new Houston American Girl Store

I've received lots of questions about our trip to the American Girl store that opened today. Trent & I stood in line last night for 45 minutes to get entrance tickets today. We were in group 10 with 100 people in each group. We signed up for notices by text so we knew when to show up & then we waited.

Little K woke me Saturday at 6:45 am since our original plan was to head out by 7 am. With our golden ticket, we waited for notice this morning by making pancakes. I showered & dressed. At 10 am, we learned that groups 1-10 were in queue. My mother-in-law, Cici, arrived & we headed out with Trent as the race car driver. We parked in literally the last row at Memorial City Mall & I knew it would be pouring when we returned.

As we journeyed through the parking lot hand in hand, Little K announced: "I'm so excited I need to scream!" Please don't, we thought.

We spent about 15 minutes in line to enter the store, surrounded by friendly officers. There was plenty to do with face painting, balloon artists & craft tables by local stores. Since the American Girl store is located across from the ice skating rink, there was plenty of activity there. Mall security said the American Girl store expected 15,000 visitors this weekend & there was definitely a plan in place.

As we entered the pink, girl extravaganza, Little K was a bit overwhelmed. We first headed to the hair salon to determine if the doll Kaylee could have her hair styled or if she needed a trip to the doll hospital. (30 minutes later after plenty of shopping, we learned that Kaylee would leave next week to the doll hospital in NY, which devastated Little K but she'll survive.)

There were literally parents packing numerous bags of carefully promoted American Girl boxes as if the world had come to an end. Luckily, it was NOT chaotic but it floored me how much people were spending. You can buy the same stuff online after all. Still, I'm thrilled we had the opportunity to participate in the first day of the store's opening.

Trent asked if we could dine in the American Girl bistro since it was now noon. I had checked online to make reservations but everything was booked. The greeter told Trent that the bistro is booked for weeks on the weekends but that during the week, there are some openings. Instead, we took our haul (after paying of course) & hungry bodies to Becks Prime in the mall. delicious!

When we got home, the parents realized just how tired we were so Mimmy & Daddy slept while Little K played with her new items. It was a good morning & I even look forward to going back... After the crowds die down.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 14, 2012

The American Girl Doll Store in Houston Opens on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012

There's a lot of anticipation (this week's vocabulary word) about the American Girl Doll store in Houston opening this weekend. If you're looking for things to do with your daughter, grand daughter or special little girl in your life, this is the place to be. That said, I'd appreciate it if everyone didn't show up since we'll be there and I suspect it's going to be crazy crowded. :-)  Here's an email that I sent Friday to my mother-in-law since she's driving up from Galveston to join us at the store opening. Are Little K & I over-the-top? Highly likely.

The email:
"Little K reiterated this morning that she wants us to get up on Saturday by 6:30 am, get dressed, grab food and head to the Mall. You may have picked up on her excitement.

The mall staff emailed me this: "The nearest entrance to the American Girl store is on the west side of the mall that faces Gessner.  The mall does open at 10AM that Saturday but the American Girl store will be opening at 9AM.  Mall entrances are unlocked at 5:30AM each day so that will be the earliest you will be able to access the mall that morning."

I did NOT tell Little K that the mall opens at 5:30 am for fear that she'd want to arrive at that time! I suspect there will be a line so that's the real reason I'm willing to go early but why don't you just call or text me (832-256-6676) when you arrive... at a decent hour. I promised Little K that we could get (her doll) Kaylee's hair redone and I imagine that'll take a while. So, I plan to let Little K look through the store until the hairdo is done. Little K has already circled numerous items in the American Girl Doll catalog that she wants for Christmas so I'm hoping to get a few things this weekend and hide them until December.

I'd love to take you & Little K to lunch somewhere nearby. (My mom will be at the ranch. Bummer.) Apparently, the store has a deli/restaurant but I couldn't make reservations online, which means it's probably going to be a mad house. We can find another place out of the bedlam to eat our lunch.

I told Trent that I've never been to a store opening so I figure I'll embrace this 100 percent. "Of course, you will," he said. I think he's a tad nervous that in years to come a high-end jewelry or clothing store will open and Little K & I will decide that we need to spend a ton at the store opening. In all honesty, she'll only be 7 years old for a bit longer and she'll only be an only child for 6 more months so I'm doing these special, one-on-one things as much as I can. I'm thrilled that you are going to be able to come. Thank you for being a part of it -- again, at a decent hour.

Can't wait to see you!"

As it turns out, there have been some procedural changes with the grand opening, which you can see at My poor husband Trent & I will head to the mall tonight (while Little K stays with a babysitter) so that we can get entrance tickets for Saturday. I'm getting nervous about what exactly I've signed myself up for.

I'll post photos later on Saturday and share any tips (or hazards) that I discover. Here's to a successful store opening!

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Show & Tell Matters

It's not every day that I get to be the topic of Show & Tell for my 4-year-old niece's class. Today was the big day.

This week at St. Rose School, the PreK class is focused on the letter M so Thursday was the day they could bring something to school that starts with the letter M for Show & Tell. As my sister Colyn talked to Miss C about this at home, Miss C shouted that she'd like to take "Miss Aunt Meg!"

I think it's perfect! 

"Don't let it go to your head," my husband remarked. 
He's probably just jealous, I thought. 

Preparations were in full gear. My sister and niece carefully decorated a white shirt with "Miss Aunt Meg" on the front so that everyone in the class would know Miss C's love name for me. Then, they added other M words on the back of the shirt in puff paint. 

Today, I gently put my new shirt on for the first time and the colors sparkled in the sun that barely peaked through the clouds in Houston. As I proudly walked through the parking lot at work on my "lunch hour" at 2:15 pm, bystanders simply stared in amazement. The shirt was gorgeous.

I arrived in the class at 2:29 pm and was greeted by the teacher assistant, who informed me that Miss C almost cried because she thought I'd forgotten. (Show & Tell didn't start until 2:30 pm so I figured I better stay for awhile to ease my niece's concerns. I'm in this thing for the long haul, I thought.) When the teacher called my niece's name, we both jumped up in excitement. The 4-year-old held my hand, walked me to the front of the room, turned me around to face her friends and beamed her sweet smile. 

"Who is this, C?" the teacher asked.

"Miss Aunt Meg!" Miss C replied as if the teacher couldn't read the masterful shirt. She looked at me, laughing and shook her little head.

The teacher briefly explained that I was likely part of C's family since the word "Aunt" was in my nick name. 

"Why did you decide to bring Miss Aunt Meg to Show & Tell today?" the teacher continued.

"Because she's my best friend," C replied, grabbing my hand. 
Yes, everyone heard the tug at my heart at that moment. We both smiled. 

C went on to explain that she really likes Miss Aunt Meg because sometimes her mom lets C come to Miss Aunt Meg's house to play. (Mind you, it's to play with Little K but I'll take the credit this time.)

The class was allowed to ask 2 questions, both of which were about the movie-star-like shirt I wore. Then, I quietly whispered into C's ear. 

She looked at me in confusion. In all the enthusiasm, she had forgotten that her Mommy also provided single packets of M&Ms for each classmate. She showed everyone two large packages of M&Ms and the kids squealed. 

"They're not from me," C said. "They're from Miss Aunt Meg!" (Well, not really but whatever.)

So, we were the hit of PreK Show & Tell today. I'm not sure if it was the shirt or the candy but either way, I think M is a great letter and being an aunt is fantastic. Hollywood, look out. We're growing talent in Houston. (wink!)

Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 07, 2012

Making Trips to Disney Easier with Kids

Thanks to my friend Kristen, who shared a great list of tips for making a trip to Disneyland or Disney World easier with youngsters. These suggestions range from ways to cut costs (like buy souvenirs ahead of time at dollar stores) to how to help your kids prepare for the trip (long lines, HUGE animals that don't talk, etc.) 

I've never been to Disneyland or Disney World with a child so this is great fodder for me. I hope you appreciate it too. Do you have other tips? Please add them to the Comments.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Houston's Presidents Heads and Other Fun Statues

How can you combine art and history for kids in Houston? Houston has some really interesting statues but some are more fun for young kids than others. Yesterday, Little K, her daddy and I went to visit the Presidents Heads, as I fondly call them. For those of you who frequently take I-45 into downtown, you likely see a sampling of the Presidents Heads that I'm referencing. Each time we drive by this small section on I-45, Little K and I shout "Hi, Presidents Heads!" I'm not even sure how that started but it's funny so I keep doing it.

Years ago, Little K and I made this same trip to artist David Adickes' outdoor studio, but there were significantly less statues and my daughter now doesn't remember that. (I think she was only three years old.) 
The studio location is just south of the Target store on Taylor Street (near I10) and very close to downtown Houston but you have to search a bit. You may recall a warehouse area near there. That's where you'll aim. You only need 10 minutes to browse the statues, although you could spend much more, if you want. Little K thought these statues were really cool, especially when we examined how the eyes were constructed. It looks like instead of coloring the irises, Adickes and his team carved that area deep into the structure so that the dark shadow would give the appearance of a darker color. Clever.

This visit also presents a history lesson since few kids would know who all these individuals are. Not only did we tell Little K about who they were, but also what great things they did. The statue at left of Little K and President Bush was perhaps only their first meeting. (wink). The larger than life size of these statues seems to emphasize the importance of the individuals. It also grabs your attention, no matter what your age.

There were a handful of these large statues for close-up viewing as soon as we pulled into the studio yard (as shown at left). Numerous other statues would cordoned off behind a metal fence. I'm not sure why that was and there wasn't anyone available to ask. There were a few "other" statues, of course, like the "We Love Houston" sign and the statues of the Beatles rocking out on guitars. There's something for everyone.

One of the best things about this trip is that you can easily weave it into a trip to Target, the bank or a restaurant on nearby Washington Avenue. I know many parents feel like their schedules are already so jam packed but this is easy to incorporate and break up the monotony of routines. Why not take your kids and see how many statues they'll recognize? Surely, they'll at least recognize the newest addition, President Barack Obama. Let me know what your kids say. 

Do you have other statues in town that your family likes to visit? Share it here.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Ways to Wrap Up Summer in Houston

Thanks to Alisha for these suggestions on fun, ways to wrap up your summer in Houston with kids.

  • HickoryHollow restaurant not only has food for purchase but live music on various nights. Check out this Heights eatery. Here are the upcoming August music offerings.
    • Wednesday, August 8th, Jam Session/Open Mic. Bring your instrument or voice and join in with our house Bluegrass duo. 
    • Friday, August 11th,Lonestar Bluegrass Band, "These guys are simply the best in Bluegrass." 
    • Saturday, August 12th, Cypress Creek Bluegrass, " One great time." 
    • Wednesday, August 15th, Jam Session/Open Mic. Bring your instrument or voice and join in with our house Bluegrass duo. 
    • Friday, August 17th, Kimberly M'Carver, "… Local music Goddess." Kim is a true music artist with loads of original material. 
    • Saturday, August 18th, The Blenders, " Oldies with a twist." Blending sounds of the 60's to present. 
    • Wednesday, August 22nd, Jam Session/Open Mic. Bring your instrument or voice and join in with our house Bluegrass duo. 
    • Friday, August 24th, Allen's Landing, "Jammin the night away." 
    • Saturday, August 25th, Pat Gavin and the Buckaroo Band, "…takes you back to the old west." Classic cowboy tunes. Pat and the gang really like to entertain. Great show!!! 
    • Wednesday, August 29th, Jam Session/Open Mic. Bring your instrument or voice and join in with our house Bluegrass duo.
  • Cactus Music (on Shepherd Drive), & Vinyl Records (Heights) have day concerts. Plus, I love trying to explain to young kids what a "record" is. You know, the flat circular thing that plays music. "A CD? That's so 1990s." I always respond, "No, not a CD. A record. Open your mind to the scratchy sound of music. It's the way I grew up." :-)

Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ohio Trip Recap & Blessings

 I was THRILLED for my daughter to return home yesterday evening. Her flight was scheduled to land at 4:22 pm but my dad called at 4:29 pm saying he'd meet us at my sister's house since he already had picked up the gang. (My flights never arrive early.)

My speed-demon father arrived at my sister's house before me and Little K couldn't find our car. "They forgot me," she told Grand.

Ha! I don't even think so! I've included some fun photos from the rest of her trip to visit my mom's side of the family but trust me, I'm so glad she's home.

As my mom said this morning, this summer has been a lot of firsts for Little K. First time at spend-the-night camp. First time traveling to Ohio with Grand & Cousin C. First time spending time at Cici's (Trent's mom) house for a few days without her parents. And the first time preparing for 2nd grade.

Do you remember  being nervous about school starting when you were a kid? I do. I'd lay on the couch with the worst stomach pains, filled with nerves. This even happened when we had no new kids at my very small school.

Now, we have 14 days until the first day of second grade on Monday, August 13 and Little K is not the only one who wishes summer was longer. (She actually told me that if she was in charge, the summer would be longer and the school year would be shorter. My response was "Don't forget to make the weekends longer while you're at it.)

There still seems to be so many things that we still haven't done so I suspect there will be another flurry of posts about fun things to do with kids in Houston before school starts. I won't forget the snuggle time with my girl while we watch the Olympics and scream "Go USA!" It's too funny.

Yes, I'm so thankful for the Barrett clan for helping Little K celebrate the end of summer. From Aunt Kenny fishing with K in the pond, taking the family to the Ohio Festival where they met Batman and Robin & sending OODLES of Box Tops to turn into K's school ...

to PaPa Don constant teasing that teaches you to be tough and dish it out as well as his enticing the girls to pick up leaves in the backyard as part of a good work ethic ...

to Grammy play spanks and re-introducing the gals to the satisfaction of baking a good cake or yummy dinner that everyone enjoys...

to Uncle Sean, Aunt Patti and Cousin Bentley taking K to the club pool and playground to cool off, not to mention a cool new bathing suit.

Thanks for the memories. I can almost put myself as a child in these photos, only I was the oldest & had no idea that history would repeat itself in this wonderful way. Thank  you, God, for all the blessings in our life.

How will you close out the summer?

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cake Decorating with Kids

The girls are getting plenty spoiled by Grammy in Ohio, not just PaPa Don. At left, you can see how the three of them got into some sugar. Grammy is a fantastic cook and baker. 

One of our favorite things to do with Grammy is bake a doll cake. You maybe have seen these in the local grocery store. They're easy to make and so fun for little girls. It's also a great birthday party idea.

All you need is the right pan for the cake to serve as the Barbie dolls skirt. I Googled "barbie doll cake pan" and tons of inexpensive options came up for the pan and the Barbie doll to insert. (The pan allows the cake to cook while leaving a cylindrical hole in the center of what becomes the dolls skirt.) Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can insert the Barbie's legs into the cake so it looks like she's wearing the cake as a skirt. 

Now mind you, the Barbie has no top on at all so it's best to keep men like PaPa Don out of the kitchen or you'll hear cat calls. (Perhaps that's just our PaPa Don! Did I mention he's a Marine?) 

Next, you need to have your icing ready. Grammy usually helps us make the icing (from scratch of course) while the cake is baking and cooling. With a flat icing knife, the kids can carefully put the icing on the doll's skirt to make it look like cloth. As you can see in the photo, Grammy has icing tips and bags so that we can then decorate the skirt to look like it has lace or ruffles. You'll need the icing bag and tip to also design a shirt/top for the Barbie. We prefer matching colored icing but that's up to you. 

As a final touch, we use the icing bag and tip to fashion the Barbie with a ring on her hand and maybe a bracelet on the other arm. In order to practice our delicate touch, Grammy helps us put icing on our own hands and wrists. That's the best part because you can lick the icing off and do it again until you get the icing jewelry just perfect! :-)

I think in the above photo, it looks like Little K is staring at her cousin as if to say "That icing is absolutely delicious! You get it, right?" 

Even if you're not much of a chef, this is a fun thing to do with kids in Houston or elsewhere. It's perfect for rainy days, too hot afternoons or just because. When the kids are bored and don't know what to do, "let them eat cake!" 

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fighting for Grandparents' Attention... Well, Not Exactly

Well, the kids trip to visit their great grandparents has been quite the story throughout the extended family. I received an email today from the patriarch himself saying that I need to post more photos to FaceBook so two of my aunts could see what's going on. I was also reminded by PaPa Don that one particular Aunt Margaret has an extra special relationship with my PaPa Don since marrying the youngest of my uncles. 

Not to be overshadowed by this lovely woman, I fired an email back: "Well, I'm happy to share any and all photos. BUT let me say this. I love Aunt Margaret but remember I'm still #1. :-) I don't think she knows how to make a good drink like I do and she's never dyed your hair red or married you in the middle of a department store. Hee hee." 

PaPa Don's response: "the competition has increased since you were a munchkin." Nice. 

Let's see how Aunt Margaret responds. (SMILE)

Now onto the day's updates and more fun things to do with your kids. I'm told it rained all day in Dayton, Ohio and the adults were worried about what a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old would be able to do. Silly, silly adults. 

Like we often do in Houston, Little K jumped on the opportunity to build a tent indoors. I started that mini tradition when she was younger and scared of the thunder and lightning. Now she just thinks that's what you get to do in a storm. Lately, in Houston, we've had plenty of tent building and it never grows old. 

Of course, great grandparents' opinion of indoor tent building is particularly interesting. Here's some insight: 

"Another redo for the umpteenth time was building a play house under the big Grand Pa Barrett rocking chair. I commented to your Mom that Little K and C under it (and every other chair in the kitchen) was a repeat of her mother also doing it, as did her mother, and her dad, and his dad and his dad too.

My Trust Agreement states that (Uncle) Don Jr. has first refusal for it. yet I wonder if anyone other than Gram and me recognize that six generations of children have all flipped that rocker over, covered it with blankets, shawls, towels, whatever,.... as it became everything from a playhouse to a rocket ship and all in between." Now that's a refreshing viewpoint.
Not all has been peaches & cream during the trip though. When PaPa Don retired for his afternoon nap and carefully spread out in his Lazy Boy Chair in the family room with a cloth carefully drawn across his sleepy eyes to help get some quality sleep, a scoundrel unveiled. It seems my super sweet girl waited until the old man was fast asleep and then carefully put a fake roach atop his snoring mouth. (See left.) 
Gad! I bet the poor guy about had a heart attack when he awoke. I could hear the laughter from here. 
Ohio is an hour ahead of Texas time so it's about time for the munchkins to head to bed. Gotta give kisses to PaPa Don after all the torment he's been through on just day 2 of the summer trip. Good thing only 2 great granddaughters made that visit.  
Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

What are some of your favorite memories with your grandparents?

 I've already received a few emails from our Ohio family, retelling me today's events. (I keep those emails in a Word file so that I have a chronological capture of so many of our memories. I suggest you do that with any emails you get from special relatives in your lives. Mine dates back to 2004 and it's awesome!)

Apparently, the day started off with PaPa Don warming up his old bod in his hot tub. He was enjoying the quiet while Grammy began breakfast and laundry. (It's Monday after all.) My mom/Grand was showing. As PaPa Don soaked in the warmth of his hot tub, he casually wondered where Little K and her sidekick cousin C were. "Seconds later decked out in their bathing suits, they were at the tub, and  ready to go," he said.

Later, the two young girls and their PaPa Don ventured to the garden in the backyard. For years, I helped PaPa Don pick the pea pods from the vine & sang a special "pea picking" song that the great gardener wrote. One year (like this one), we had no peas to pick upon my visit to Ohio so PaPa Don had to write a new song. I'm told the girls sang this one today as history repeated itself again.

"This summer I went to Ohio.
I went there to help PaPa pick peas.
The rabbits arrived there before me.
Dig taters 'cuz there ain't no peas.

Taters, taters,
Dig taters 'cuz there ain't no peas!"

Digging potatoes there is much more of an adventure than you might think. When you find a huge one, you yell "MONGO!" When you find a small one that one be good for a pot of soup, you yell "SOUPER!" There was a lot of "MONGO!" screaming today, although I'm not sure the girls adhered to the size policy. :-)

Ah, yes, we're a colorful bunch but we have GOOD stories to tell. At left, Little K and Cousin C show off their bucket of white and red potatoes. Good thing my girl is Irish!

Later, Grand took the girls on a walk down the street to the pond, where they could feed the fish. It's a stark difference from the hustle and bustle of Houston. It's a bit cooler too but not much. 

Looking at these pictures, I remember the time I took my aunt's dog down to this same pond. At the time, there were ducks there. The dog decided he needed to go after the ducks but, unfortunately, I was at the other end of the leash.

Suffice it to say, I ended up in the pond, soaking wet, with only one "Jelly Shoe" on a foot. The other was lost at sea.

Overall, it looks like they're having fun together. 

I hope this encourages you to go out and do something similar with the little ones in your lives. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create wonderful memories with your loved ones. I think you just need an adventurous spirit and a willingness to get your hands a bit dirty. 

What are some of your favorite memories with your grandparents? Great grandparents? Add a comment to this blog post to share your ideas.

Until the next nap time...

How Do You Welcome Your Extended Family to Your Home?

So my grandparents are pretty silly. EXTRA silly for their great grandkids. Little K and I talked on the phone Sunday night after she had arrived at my grandparents house in Ohio. 

"Did you check your email?" she asked me. 

I then did. The photos at left are the surprise I found in my in box. It seems PaPa Don created some welcome signs that included purposeful misspellings of my daughter's and niece's names, not to mention the misspelling of his own daughter's name (Dawn). Hee hee.

It looks like they're up for a week of fun. Little K already informed me that she picked fresh tomatoes from the garden and that she's looking forward to Grammy's homemade biscuits and gravy and to PaPa Don's infamous pancakes. Oh, I'm really wishing I had made this trip. Yes, I have those memories too, so I suppose it's time for Little K to have her own. Still, there are some things you're never too old to enjoy. :-)

What fun memories do you have with your grandparents? As parents, do you encourage the grandparents in your life to make funny memories with your kids? 

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time Well Spent with Grandparents

It's never a dull moment when Little K spends time with my parents, so fondly called "Grand" and "PaPa" as my blog followers are familiar. Little K spent a week with them just on the west side of Houston earlier in July and my daughter had a blast. I think the photos speak for themselves.

At left, my 7-year-old gets "dazzling" as she tries on grown-up clothes in a store in the Houston Galleria. I can only imagine what the sales people thought of my mom and daughter. It does remind me of times long ago when my own mom caught me and my PaPa Don (mom's dad) reenacting a wedding. PaPa Don stood next to a manequin who was dressed in a wedding dress as I served as the officiator over the wedding ceremony. Bystanders watched our ceremony and giggled. My mom was mortified.

These days, Grand has another view."A Grandmother has a right," my mom replied.

 Below are some pics of Grand and Little K's adventures at a Memorial-area park and at the merry-go-round at Memorial City Mall. Cheap, easy fun for parents, grandparents and little ones.

Today, Little K left with Grand and cousin C for a trip to Ohio to visit my grandparents, Little K's Great Grandparents. Not many of us have had the opportunity to get to know our great grandparents so I'm so excited that Little K gets the chance to write this interesting chapter of her own life. Luckily, she sees her great grandparents about twice a year, including  a trip to Ohio. This round, I'm staying in Houston to work but am a bit jealous. Here's to an exciting week with the Barrett clan and many fabulous memories for my girl.

Thanks, Mom/Grand!

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Two for Tuesday deal in July at the Downtown Aquarium

My 7-year-old LOVES the Downtown Aquarium so she'll be thrilled to know we get to go next week. You can go for half price any Tuesday in July. Check out the details below and download your coupon.

A new coupon has been released for the Two for Tuesday deal in July!  Take advantage of half-price Houston Aquarium tickets with buy-one-get-one free All-Day Adventure Pass coupon available online. The pass includes unlimited access to Shark Voyage, Aquarium Adventure Exhibit, Ferris Wheel, Carousel and Lighthouse Dive.

The coupon is valid for Tuesdays in July. The Adventure Pass retails for $15.99, so the deal makes it about $8 per person. Print the coupon here to get this deal. Coupon valid for up to four people. A new coupon will be released for August Tuesdays.

Families can enjoy many of the Aquarium’s activities this summer including Shark Weekend (July 28-29) and free Salsa dance lessons each Friday evening from 7 pm – 11 pm.  Find the Houston Aquarium downtown at 410 Bagby at Memorial.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Houston Zoo suspends"'Free First Tuesdays"

I learned this morning that the Houston Zoo will stop offering its "Free First Tuesdays" promotion -- at least through the end of the summer. There are concerns about heavy traffic outside hospitals in the nearby Texas Medical Center. According to Fox26, "On June 5, more than 12,000 people visited the zoo, causing a massive traffic backup."

Our family headed to the Houston Zoo for Spring Break in March 2011, when it took 45 minutes to park. Little K still talks about how frustrating that wait was. This past Spring Break, the City of Houston and the Zoo worked together to announce plans to accommodate 350,000 visitors during one week.

To me, it seems as if the Zoo should be interested in developing a parking garage in the area  in order to encourage visitors to quickly park and enter the zoo so the Zoo can make more money. The other attractions could also take advantage of the parking garage. Shoot, I would even pay to park if I could do so quickly. I have to do it at the doctor's office. Why not a public attraction that I'd like to support but don't want to wait for. Just my two cents.

What do you think? 

For more fun ideas of things to do with kids in Houston, check out my book focused on this topic. 

Until the next nap time...